Writers’ Retreat on a Private Island in Africa’s Great Rift Valley — 23-30 November 2019
I have spent many happy days writing at Lake Baringo in Kenya. It’s one of my favourite places in the world. Now I’d like to share it with a small group of other writers.
Lake Baringo is wonderfully quiet and isolated. The birdlife is stunning. The lake has almost no boat traffic. Watching a hippo surfacing for breath is almost as magical as waking up to the sun rising over the water.
Island Camp is a tented lodge. Each room/tent has proper beds, an en-suite bathroom and a beautiful view of the lake.
We will have the whole camp — the whole island — to ourselves.
No single supplements. Everyone gets their own room/tent (unless you want to bring a partner).
There will be no pressure to write or talk about your writing. Everyone will be free to do whatever they want and socialise as much or as little as they like. I will be drinking quite a few cocktails by the pool…
November is pleasantly warm and mostly dry, falling between the rainy season and the baking hot dry season — ideal for writing or just catching up on all that reading we need to do.
As this is the first time I’m trying this it will be not-for-profit, so prices are discounted. We are also benefitting from an excellent “local” rate at Island Camp.
There are a few things to consider:
This is wild Africa. You will encounter lizards, insects and possibly the odd snake. There are hippos and crocodiles in the lake. Weaver birds will attack your breakfast table. Rooms/tents are wide open during the day, so birds and bugs may fly in and do what they do…
Electricity is by solar power during the day and generator at night. You will not have power in your room/tent during the day (except Superior rooms). There are sockets to charge laptops and phones during the day at the pool bar.
There is usually some wifi at the pool bar, as well as 3G mobile data accessible on the island, but it is slow and in Africa nothing is guaranteed! This is not the place to do your online research.
Food is plentiful, but we are a long way from civilisation and the menu can be a bit old-fashioned and plain. Expect the culinary style and standards of an old-school British club rather than a modern London restaurant. There aren’t a great deal of vegetarian options, although the staff will do their best. I will be pushing for plenty of salads and fresh vegetables alongside the fried breakfasts and roast chicken!
This is not a five-star resort, so expect a few rough edges and clumsy workmanship in bathrooms etc. The solar-heated hot water comes and goes. Bear in mind that luxury tented camps in Kenya can charge over $1,000 per night! This is a more affordable, but just as lovely, option.
Island Camp has a lot of steps, although there are plenty of friendly staff around to help anyone unsteady on their feet. The nearest Western-standard hospital is over two hours away, so anyone with pre-existing medical conditions should consider their possible medical needs carefully.
Weather can get exciting, with strong Rift Valley winds and thunderstorms particularly noticeable through canvas.
Lake Baringo is approximately 5 hours’ drive from Nairobi.
If you would like to join the Baringo Writers’ Retreat, or if you have any questions, please contact me at email@example.com
7 nights full-board at Island Camp (Saturday-Saturday)
Transport from Nairobi airport or your Nairobi hotel
1 night hotel in Nairobi before return flight
Transfer to airport
excludes: flights to Nairobi, insurance, Kenya visa (currently $50), drinks other than tea/coffee/water, tips (guidance: $100 total), dinner in Nairobi
Three price options:
Island Camp has three grades of room/tent. All have proper beds, ensuite bathrooms and lake-view terraces. The 5 Classic rooms are like large, permanent tents; they are showing their age a bit but are comfortable. The 7 Deluxe rooms are wider and are part canvas, part solid structure. The 4 Superior rooms are large solid structures with canvas fronts — you won’t know what to do with all that space! The Superior rooms have electricity all day.
The package price depends on your choice of room:
Classic: US$1,100 [approx £860]
Deluxe: US$1,400 [approx £1,100]
Superior: US$1,800 [approx £1,400]
NB That is not the rate per night — it’s the total price. A very good deal!
Partners and non-writer friends are very welcome, and will pay the same per-person package price. Twin bed configurations are available. Adults only.
We will travel from Nairobi by coach or minibus to the jetty at Lake Baringo, where boats will whisk us across to the island in around 15 minutes.
At the end of the week, we will return to Nairobi and stay in a 3-4 star hotel in a nice part of the city. Transport to the airport will be provided.
There is the option of staying longer in Kenya:
I shall be heading to Watamu Beach the following week, and we can continue the Writers’ Week there if others are interested!
Safaris can be arranged at prices from fair to extortionate.
Lamu, Mombasa, Naivasha and the Aberdares are also popular destinations.